At a fairly ripe old age, the Brooks are the champions, and they like it, and they mean to stay champions. If Manager Walter Alston can scrape together a quorum from the two dozen or so pitchers he took to Florida, the Dodgers should not have too much trouble—they are that good. Campanella, Hodges, Reese, Robinson, Snider, Furillo. Plus some good ballplayers named Amoros, Zimmer, Gilliam and Jackson. And now a kid named Charley Neal who is a magician on the double play and has pushed two veterans off second base. So, with the Dodgers, it comes down to the pitching. Podres is gone. Loes and Spooner are ailing and so are Craig and Bessent. But Don Newcombe looks all right and so do Erskine, Labine, Koufax, Roebuck and a handful of sharp rookies. It may not be quite so easy as last year but the Dodgers will make out all right.
1 PEE WEE REESE, SHORTSTOP: Field captain and key man of the Dodgers, he seems to be just as good at 36 as he was at 20. A master fielder, quick on the bases and a very dangerous hitter.
4 DUKE SNIDER, CENTER FIELD: Physically, the perfect ballplayer—tremendous left-handed power, vast fielding skill, a fine arm. Last year hit .309 with 42 home runs, 136 runs batted in.
36 DON NEWCOMBE, PITCHER: Temperamental but terrific when he's right, this towering right-hander won 15 games by midsummer, finished with 20-5 record. His fast ball is overpowering, curve sharp, control good.
39 ROY CAMPANELLA, CATCHER: The happy warrior of the Dodgers, he handles the pitchers, throws out the base runners, hits the home runs and collects Most-Valuable-Player awards. His loss would hurt more than any other.
Gil Hodges, a catcher when he came up to the Dodgers, has been the regular first basemen for eight years; in the last seven he has driven in at least 100 runs a season while becoming a superlative defensive man as well.
Old (37) Jackie Robinson, who on any given day can be the Most Valuable Man in Baseball, is still a consistently fine third baseman and will be a tough man for Randy Jackson (see below) to drive away. Don Zimmer and Junior Gilliam give the team depth at a handful of positions; both can play second, Gilliam the outfield and Zimmer third and short. Sandy Amoros, who hits hard for a little man, will be No. 1 in left and Carl Furillo, with his skill in the field and solid hitting almost taken for granted, is a fixture in right. The pitching staff? If they heal, they're all good.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH
2 RANDY JACKSON, THIRD BASE: Came from the Cubs to contest Robinson for third base; a steady fielder who hits the long ball and should like Ebbets Field.
9 GINO CIMOLI, OUTFIELD: A fine fielder and good singles hitter. Temperament has improved and he could be one of few rookies to make the club.
43 CHARLEY NEAL, SECOND BASE: Has apparently won a starting job with his wide range, quick hands and an outstanding arm. Hits only fair but good enough.
Chico Fernandez, Dick Williams are big league caliber, could play on many other teams; Pitchers Don Drysdale, Stan Williams, Don Elston, Ken Lehman could help out.
BOARD OF STRATEGY
24 WALTER ALSTON, MANAGER: NOW in his third year as boss of the Dodgers, he knows his ballplayers, knows what he wants them to do and keeps this high-priced, veteran club on its toes. Quiet and thoughtful but a gambler in the dugout or the coaching box.
Billy Herman (22) is Alston's right-hand man while white-haired JAKE PITLER (31) coaches at first base and big JOE BECKER (33) works with the pitchers.
24 WALTER ALSON